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Developing an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Developing an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing is an excellent tool for growing your customer base, growing your brand and growing your sales. But just like any tool, it's most effective when it's used within a plan. If you started off in email marketing without a clear-cut strategy, here are 4 ways to get back on track by the end of the week:

Figure out why you're writing.

Do you want your newsletter to be strictly educational? Do you want to share client success stories and case studies? Do you want to introduce joint venture partners? Do you want to announce new products or services? Choose one or a few tactics for your newsletter campaigns and then stick with those tactics. It's important that your readers know what to expect, so be consistent with your style and your content.

Figure out what you're writing to.

Even though you will have thousands of different names on your mailing list, and even though those readers will all be at different stages in a relationship with your business, and even though they might be at different levels in the buying funnel, you should definitely have your target market profile in mind when you craft your newsletter campaigns.

Your newsletter will never be all things to all people; the most important readers to keep in mind when putting together your newsletter are your customers and those most likely to become your customers. Be prepared for negative feedback from a few readers from time to time. And when it comes, just ask yourself, "Was this person a particularly customer?" If not, do not worry about it.

For instance, just last week I received a negative comment from a reader who "reprimanded" me for offering a product for sale in my newsletter. While I love providing free information to my clients and prospects, and I invite every one to stay on my list as long as it takes them for them to determine whether or not they're like to do business with us in some capacity, I'm rarely concerned with the opinions of those who are strictly looking for freebies and will never become clients. While I definately encourage them to stay on our list, I would not change my strategy to suit them. (Now if a client or prospect had a suggestion about my newsletter, that would be a different story.)

Figure out how often you will send it.

With email marketing, consistency is an important factor, and here's why: When you're inconsistent, your readers might forget who you are and either not open your newsletter or report you as a spammer. When you're inconsistent, your readers learn to live without you, which causes your unsubscribe rate to increase.

And when you have inconsistently high sending spikes associated with your mail server IP address – in other words, you sporadically send a high volume of email messages – your readers' internet providers may consider you a spammer and put a temporary block on your messages. You'll have to contact them through their designated channels and jump through hoops to get the block removed. The best thing to do is determine a sending schedule and stick with it on a regular basis.

Figure out how you will measure success.

If all you're doing is measuring open rates and unsubscribes, you're missing the boat. You need to determine early on the ultimate opportunity you're looking for out of your email marketing efforts. If campaign A has 2,000 opens and 10 sales, while campaign B has 750 opens and 30 sales, which campaign will you consider more successful?

Will you count all unsubscribes as a failure, or will you consider unsubscribes as an effective way to purge your list of less-than-perfect prospects? How will you take the statistics from current campaigns and use them to improve future campaigns? Having this mapped out ahead of time will make things go much more smoothly when it's actually time to track and measure.

Now wash, rinse, repeat. Email marketing is an extremely effective way to grow your small business, but do not expect miracles overnight. Develop your strategy, stick with it, track and measure along the way and make improvements as necessary. You'll see your business, your branding and your sales increase in very short order.

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